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Idlib is on fire, but the firefighters only make it worse

August 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm

A female civil defense member attends search and rescue works after Assad Regime warplanes carried out airstrikes on the town of Arihah in Idlib province, Syria on 28 July, 2019 [Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency]

For more than four months, the Syrian province of Idlib has been subjected to heavy shelling from the forces loyal to the murderer Bashar Al-Assad and the criminal Vladimir Putin. Thousands of people have been killed under the rubble of their homes. The crimes committed in Idlib are as brutal and savage as those of the Nazis and Mongols, but the world is silent about them. No one bats an eyelid, nor are their hearts or consciences moved.

Indeed, the world’s conscience is dead as hypocrisy rules. When a single terrorist attack occurs in their countries, or a Zionist is killed in the occupied Palestinian territories, politicians and their media suddenly find their voices. When a regime commits acts of terrorism against its own Muslim people, though, the world is both deaf and blind. No one tries to stop such massacres or deter the criminal regime in Syria which is killing its Muslim population. The Muslims receive no help, not even from supposedly Muslim states. What has the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation done? Doesn’t it have a duty to protect Muslims? It has also stood by in silence, with not even a statement of condemnation being issued to save its face. As for the Arab League, I won’t even go there; it is useless. Idlib is in flames, but the people who are supposed to be the world’s firefighters only make matters worse.

What is astonishing is the silence of the intellectuals; those who call for liberation; peace movements; and all of the UN bodies, all of which are suspiciously silent. It is as if they have all colluded to annihilate the Muslims in Syria, including Idlib, where the massacre is just one of many committed by the brutal regime and its allies since the outbreak of the revolution in 2011. The massacres in Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Madaya and Deir Ez-Zor spring to mind, as well as Idlib, again, 2017. That is when Russian aircraft dropped phosphorus bombs on the towns and villages of the province, even they are banned munitions. The Assad regime also dropped hundreds of explosive barrels from helicopters onto helpless civilians, burning the people and the land. Tens of thousands of families from Idlib had no other choice but to flee to northern Syria, a torturous journey undertaken with no preparation due to their sudden displacement; they were unable to take clothes, food or blankets to shelter them from the harsh weather. Many were forced to repeat this tragedy in the summer heat.

READ: 450,000 Syrians fled Idlib for Turkey

Idlib hosts about 5 million Syrian opponents of the regime, including hundreds of thousands who chose displacement rather than living under the control of Damascus after signing agreements sponsored by Russia in Daraa, Quneitra, Damascus, southern Damascus, and northern Homs. These are the “de-escalation zones” put together by the countries sponsoring the Astana agreement — Turkey, Russia, and Iran — as announced in September 2017, when they agreed on the establishment of a de-escalation zone in Idlib province and the surrounding areas. However, Russia has violated this agreement by bombing Idlib and other areas in neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakiya provinces. According to the UN, this has resulted in the death of thousands of helpless Syrian civilians, including at least 1,000 children, and forced more than 400,000 people to flee to the north-west of Syria over the past three months.

Which county has the fate of Syria in it's hand? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Which county has the fate of Syria in it’s hand? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Entire cities, towns, and villages stand empty, their shops have closed. Beautiful Idlib, once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, has been turned into ruins and rubble.

It is as if the purpose of this campaign is to displace Sunni Muslims and replace them with regime loyalists. From day one, Damascus has sought to redistribute Syrian citizens based on sectarian affiliation. The murderer Assad said in the past that Syria is for those who love Syria, even if they do not carry Syrian citizenship. Of course, his definition of loving Syria is to love his Alawite regime.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried for years to obtain a UN resolution establishing a “safe zone” for the Syrians, but the US firmly rejected this because it supports the regime, even if it pretends not to. US President Donald Trump supports Assad in his annihilation of Muslims, who he regards as terrorists. Trump’s Syrian counterpart is fighting this war on America’s behalf while acting as a border guard for Israel.

READ: US says safe zone disagreements blocking implementation

The events in Idlib are a disgrace to the international community, who only woke up when we saw two children trapped in their partially-destroyed house. The older of the two was trying to save her infant sister, holding on tightly and refusing to let go. She was killed, the same fate as her mother, while the younger sister suffered serious injuries. This tragedy was heart-rending but there are hundreds of similar tragedies playing out in this war which have not received the same publicity.

Although this pricked the global conscience, the images will fade, as happened with the image of Syrian child Alan Kurdi, whose body was washed up on a beach in Turkey in 2015. At the time, promises were made by world leaders to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, but they were just as quickly forgotten. A year later, the picture of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh covered in blood during a battle in Aleppo provoked outrage, but this was not translated into firm action against the murderous Syrian regime.

Before we blame the world for its shameful positions, though, we must also blame, and even criminalise, the Syrian opposition in exile, members of which attended the Astana 13 talks a few days ago in Kazakhstan. The head of the Syrian opposition delegation, Ahmad Tu’mah, held a press conference in Istanbul before leaving for Astana, in which he thanked Russia. They sensed an improvement in Russia’s position, he declared, as well as in Moscow’s desire to improve the situation. Words cannot be found to respond to this man. What else can we say but “God save Syria”?

The Syrian revolution has been plagued by people who have deemed themselves to be leaders and spokespeople overseas, but they are even more foolish than the regime they were raised under and in which they were appointed to positions and to which they were once loyal. This includes the former Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab, who fled in 2015 when the Assad regime was on the verge of falling and claimed that he was against it and backed the revolution.

READ: Assad regime declares conditional ceasefire in Idlib

Syrian opposition groups based abroad have divided into coalitions and groups, each following a different country. The officials live in luxury hotels and wear the finest clothes, holding their conferences for media coverage, nothing more. They do not feel the suffering of the Syrian people, so can these individuals really speak on behalf of the revolution? Do they live up to the major sacrifices made by the rebels?

For the Syrian revolution has made sacrifices that no other has made. Had it not been for the plotting against it inside and beyond Syria, it would have been victorious and the murderer Bashar Al-Assad’s regime would have been overthrown. Nevertheless, the revolution will continue, and it will prevail if and when the rebels unite. They must put their differences aside. When they return to the motto adopted at the beginning of the revolution — “We have no one but God” — then, and only then, will they triumph.

Caricature of Syrian President sending air strikes in Syria - Cartoon [Alaraby/Twitter]

Caricature of Syrian President sending air strikes in Syria – Cartoon [Alaraby/Twitter]

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.